Nasser Al Qasabi: The Master of Social Satire



Early Life

 

Nasser Al Qasabi was born in November 28, 1961 in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. From a young age he had a passion for acting, and he would hone his talents and skills at the King Saud University college theatre. After graduating in the 1980s, he started his career in what was then the emerging Saudi acting industry. Throughout the 1980s, he would appear in various soap operas and TV series, becoming one of Saudi Arabia’s rising stars.  

 

Tash ma Tash

 

Nasser’s big break would come in 1993, when he starred alongside Abdullah Al-Sadhan in the satirical comedy series Tash ma Tash (No Big Deal). The series was episodic, and Nasser would play a different character each episode. The show would satirize aspects of Saudi/Arab society, often times focusing on subjects that are considered taboo such as the disadvantages that Arab women face. One episode that garnered public discussion focused on educational reform in Saudi Arabia and it pitted modernisers against traditional clerics. The show ran on Saudi 1 from 1993 to 2005, and then the popular broadcasting company MBC bought its broadcasting rights. This exposed the show to other Arab countries, and Nasser garnered a wider audience across the region. After 18 seasons and 540 episodes, the show would finally come to the end of its run in 2011. 

 

Arabs Got Talent

 

After Tash ma Tash ended, Nasser needed to start on a new project. Although acting was his main forte, he never shied away from trying something new. In 2012, he became a judge in the reality performance show Arabs Got Talent. Joining him in the judges’ panel was MBC director, Ali Jaber, Lebanese singer, Najwa Karam and Egyptian actor Ahmed Helmy. He would then leave the show in 2015 in order to pursue a new acting project. 

 

Selfie

 

In Ramadan 2015, Nasser starred in a dark sketch comedy series called Selfie. The show satirised the terrorist group IS, which at that point in time was at the peak of its power in the Levant. In one sketch, Nasser played a father whose son was radicalised by IS and fled to Syria to join them. Nasser’s character then travelled to Syria to retrieve his son, and upon arrival he discovered that most IS militants are ignorant to the teachings of Islam and only regurgitate slogans that their leaders taught them. The group would then kill Nasser’s character for refusing to participate in a suicide bombing. After the episode, Nasser would receive death threats from Twitter accounts associated with IS. This did not stir fear in Nasser, as he told Al Arabiya News “God is my protector. I'm an artist, and the artist's essential role is to reveal society's challenges even if he pays a price.” 

Personal Life

 

Nasser is married to Saudi writer and novelist Badriah Al-Beshr. Badriah is a columnist and writer for Al Yamama magazine. In 2011, she became the first woman to win the Arabic Press Award for best newspaper column. Additionally, she published three compilations of short stories and three novels.  Nasser and Badriah have four children named Mohanad, Hala, Rakan, and Eman.